Book Signing

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Book Signing at Chapters:  Our oldest fan > our youngest fan.  This elderly lady travelled across Calgary to come and meet us… eventually.  She was so excited as she had been following our story for years, arrived in tears! This little guy Nico is an avid Titanic follower and was in awe as he could not believe that he had really met us as he has following the story of the Concordia since he has been able to do so.  What an incredible little guy!

Costa Concordia: An ecological disaster


_57939777_costa_conc_environ_624mapEven as the search continues for any further survivors of the Costa Concordia accident, questions are being asked about the potential environmental impact.
We have a big ship with tanks full of fuel, aground on an island in a sea fringed with natural protected areas.
So the worst case scenario is pretty bad.
Isola del Giglio, where the stricken cruise ship rests, is part of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park, the largest marine protected area in Italy.
Among its inhabitants are important plants and birds and some rare frogs, while the seas support coral, cetaceans and the occasional Mediterranean monk seal – a critically endangered species.

Concordia operation success a source of pride for an Italy shamed by shipwreck


GIGLIO ISLAND, Italy — The extraordinary righting of the Costa Concordia  from its watery Tuscan graveyard has given Italy a boost of sorely needed pride,  helping erase the shame many felt after an Italian captain took the cruise ship  off course in an apparent stunt, crashed it and then abandoned ship before  everyone was evacuated.

It didn’t seem to matter that the chief salvage master was from South Africa  or that his 500-member crew hailed from 26 different nations. Italy, beset by  two years of recession and such political instability that each day brings  relief that the government hasn’t fallen, had pulled off an unprecedented  engineering feat as the world watched live on television.

“Well done!” retiree Aldo Mattera said Tuesday morning as he surveyed the  Concordia, upright for the first time since the Jan. 13, 2012, shipwreck that  killed 32 people near Giglio Island.

The day has dawned… after another dark night!

It was so hard to believe that we were part of this carnage, last night when we saw the ship coming up moment by moment and eventually hearing the foghorn  blast at the success of this salvage operation.  It seems like we recalled every move we made on this fateful night!  It became so much harder as the reality of seeing the wreck transition for daylight into the dark night of Giglio.  Again the visual of this upright carcass, the trashing noises, the creaking metal and the churning sea.  All these months we have been looking at the wreck, it felt as if it was something ‘out there’ to fuss over, but inconceivable to remember the tangible connection of being a part of this tragedy.

Only now are we hearing reports of officials being unsure that these bodies were trapped in the sunken ruins of the Concordia. Remembering what it was like in the sea at 12.10 am on the night of this accident, I shudder to think that these hopes are unlikely.  The reality is that, the we will more than likely, never know the fate of these remaining, unanswerable questions. More-so we express gratitude for the miracle of our survival.


Today the news tells of the eventual collection of passengers stranded belongings, after the immediate search for the two remaining missing bodies.

We don’t anticipate getting anything back although they say that the safes are protected from all elements, all we remember having in the safe was a few hundred $’s and my iPhone and iPad….. yes, they are now worthless!  Unfortunately, I had left my jewelry and precious posessions,  in the dresser drawer. Although we thought our cabin was on the high side of the ship, we knew that the weather and all elements and search and rescue efforts, would have destroyed everything.  After seeing the re-floatation yesterday, even our cabin is submerged as the ship is floating so much lower than at sailing level, 3/4 of the ship is underwater.

I can’t help thinking of the Titanic movie when the grandmother goes with her granddaughter all those years later, to identify her precious belongings…it makes me so teary.

Engineers Gear Up to Rotate the Wreck of Costa Concordia

The Costa Concordia has been grounded for 20 months. The 100,000 ton cruise ship slammed into rocks off the Tuscan island of Giglio in January 2012, killing 32 people and forcing the evacuation of 4,000 passengers.  Now the liner’s finally set to be lifted upright in an unprecedented operation led by US firm Titan Salvage and Italy’s Micoperi.  Titan’s senior salvage master Nicholas Sloane says they’re using a technique called ‘parbuckling’.

Costa Concordia finally upright after 19-hour operation: CTV News

GIGLIO ISLAND, Italy — The crippled Costa Concordia cruise ship was pulled completely upright early Tuesday after a complicated, 19-hour operation to wrench it from its side where it capsized last year off Tuscany, with officials declaring it a “perfect” end to a daring and unprecedented engineering feat.

Shortly after 4 a.m. September 17th 2013), a foghorn wailed on Giglio Island and the head of Italy’s Civil Protection agency, Franco Gabrielli, announced that the ship had reached vertical and that the operation to rotate it — known in nautical terms as parbuckling — was complete.

“We completed the parbuckling operation a few minutes ago the way we thought it would happen and the way we hoped it would happen,” said Franco Porcellacchia, project manager for the Concordia’s owner, Costa Crociere SpA.

“A perfect operation, I must say” with no environmental spill detected so far, he said.

Applause rang out among firefighters in the tent where Gabrielli and other project engineers made the announcement.

The Concordia rammed into a reef of Giglio Island on Jan. 13, 2012, after the captain brought it too close to shore. It drifted, listed and capsized just off the island’s port, killing 32 people. Two bodies were never recovered.

The operation to right it had been expected to take no more than 12 hours, but dragged on after some initial delays with the vast system of steel cables, pulleys and counterweights. The final phase of the rotation went remarkably fast as gravity began to kick in and pull the ship toward its normal position.

Parbuckling is a standard operation to right capsized ships. But never before had it been used on such a huge cruise liner.

The ship is expected to be floated away from Giglio in the spring and turned into scrap.

Porcellacchia said an initial inspection of the starboard side, covered in brown slime from its 20 months underwater while the ship was stuck on a rocky seabed perch, “looks pretty bad.”

That is the side of the hull that was raised 65 degrees in the operation. Crews might have to do extensive work on that side to ready it for the attachment of empty tanks that will later be used to help float the vessel away. It must also be made strong enough to survive a second winter storm season, when high seas and gusts will likely buffet the 115,000-ton, 300-meter (1,000-foot) long liner.

Helping the Concordia to weather the winter is an artificial platform on the seabed that was constructed to support the ship’s flat keel.

“The ship is resting on its platform,” Gabrielli said.

About an hour before the rotation was complete, observers said the boat seemed to suddenly settle down upon its new perch.

Parbuckling the Concordia

It’s now official, to be confirmed on the 15th  ,  if the weather is favorable and all activities have been tested.  On Monday September 16th 2013, they will proceed with the operation the “parbuckling” of the Concordia.

We pray that this project will proceed with safety and that the two remaining bodies will be returned to their loved ones.